Delhi High Court sets aside order granting parole to Mukhtar Ansari

Delhi High Court: A few days back on 16th February, the Additional Sessions Judge had granted parole to applicant Mukhtar Ansari who is a sitting MLA from Mau Constituency and has been so for last 4 terms. Aggrieved by the order, the Election Commission approached the High Court contending that it is bestowed with extensive powers under Article 324 of the Constitution and where an order of the Court would adversely affect and obstruct the Election Commission in conducting free and fair elections, the Election Commission would be within its jurisdiction to challenge the same placing reliance on  Mohinder Singh Gill v. Chief Election Commissioner, New Delhi, 1978 (1) SCC 405Election Commission of India v. State of Haryana1984 Suppl SCC 104;  A.C. Jose v. Sivan Pillai, 1984 (2) SCC 656 and Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms, 2002 (5) SCC 294.

The Commission even submitted before the Court that Question No. 49 of Frequently Asked Questions to Model Code of Conduct for Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates, stateS that before grant of custody parole, the Election Commission ought to have been consulted. However, the same was not done in the case of respondent. Counsel for the petitioner further submitted if the criminal antecedents of the respondent are taken into account, it is apparent that it would affect the free and fair process of election stating that not only the impugned order has been passed without issuing notice to the Election Commission, it also violates the directions issued by the Election Commission during the elections, namely, Instruction No. 13 in this regard.

The petitioner further contended that democracy is the basic feature of the Constitution of India which rests on a system of free and fair elections and no candidate has a fundamental right to be elected or to campaign as per his choice relying on  Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain1975 Supp SCC 1;  Jyoti Basu v. Debi Ghosal, 1982 (1) SCC 691 and  Kuldip Nayar v. Union of India, 2006 (7) SCC 1.

Election Commission informed the Bench of the incidents to show that while canvassing, law and order problems were created and various FIRs were registered in 2012 while he was released and in January, 2017 as well, FIR had been registered wherein supporters of respondent were found creating law and order situation. On this, the Court observed that the legal right of a candidate to contest an election does not translate into a legal right to canvass for his candidature and held that even if the trial court was not appraised with the relevant rules placed by ECI, the High Court had power under Section 482 CrPC to stop the abuse of process. Accordingly, disposing off the petition, the Court set aside the impugned order. [Election Commission of India v. Mukhtar Ansari, 2017 SCC OnLine Del 7199, dated 27.02.2017]